photo: Mike Gifford via flickr
In the past year there have been a number of studies calling in question the usefulness of small-scale wind turbines. Not only in many cases are the estimates on how much power they actually produce overstated, in some cases they may never even generate more power than was used in making them. Well, CleanTechnica is pointing out an interesting comparison of small-scale wind turbines done in the Netherlands that just reinforces the point. When you compare these turbines to solar panels the cost-to-power ratio is clearly in favor of solar:The Smaller the Turbine, the Worse It Gets
The original Dutch study was done over 12-months in Zeeland and found that at the smallest rotor they tested, the Energy Ball v100, produced just 6kWh a month and cost over $6,000. At the other end of the scale was a turbine with 16' blades, which generated 224 kWh a month and cost $26,359.
At no point in between was it really cost-effective to generate enough power to do much of anything with. Based on average US stats for electricity consumption, you'd need four of the largest turbines to offset a month's worth of electricity.
But we knew that for some time. However, the thing though that really caught my eye is the solar power comparison.
Small-Scale Wind = 8 Times the Cost as Solar
CleanTechnica looked at generating 200 kWh a month -- a figure they said a "frugal treehugger in a tiny house" might use... well this frugal TreeHugger uses even less than that, about 100 kWh per month, but I live in a more-or-less shoebox sized apartment. (Sorry couldn't resist.)
They used the second-smallest turbine, an Ampair 600 with 3' blades which generated 20 kWh a month in the tests, and found that it would cost $127,100 to purchase enough of the turbines to generate that 200 kWh. However to set up a 200 kWh/month solar power system they estimated to cost about $15,000. Yes, small-scale wind power cost over eight times as much to generate the same power.
The message: Unless you're in someplace entirely devoid of sun but particularly blessed with wind, solar power is by far the better residential investment.
Read more: CleanTechnica and Low-Tech Magazine
Small-Scale Wind Power
Small Scale Wind Turbine Power Claims Grossly Overstated: New UK Report
10 Small-Scale Wind Turbines Cut NYC Apartment Building's Electric Costs in Half
Small-Scale Wind Turbine Potential Great, Limited by Installation & Electricity Costs